How to Control Web Cookies and Boost Online Privacy

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How to Control Web Cookies and Boost Online Privacy

Dont like being tracked on the web? The right browser settings can help.

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Odds are that your computers browser is full of cookies, tiny files left behind as you go from website to website. Mine is. My personal machine has close to 5,000 cookies.

Some of the web cookies on your machine are used by big advertising companies looking to gather and store information about youwhat you shop for, which sites you visit, and so on. That can feel like a violation of your privacy and make you think you should dive in and delete them all.

But other cookies contain important information that makes your web experiences smoother. Which is why you really shouldntdive in and delete them all.

Privacy experts have been talking about cookies for years, but the subject remains confusing. It doesnt have to be. Managing cookies is a privacy maintenance task that everyone should understand, the digital equivalent of regularly changing your smoke detector batteries.

And Dec. 4, National Cookie Daywhich celebrates the baked kind, not the digital onesis a great time to take care of business. Its as easy as baking some Toll House chocolate chip treats, pouring yourself a glass of milk, and opening your browser preferences.

Note that managing cookies is just one component of protecting your privacy.

Companies may use non-cookie technologies to track you across websites, and clearingcookieswont address that, says Justin Brookman, privacy director for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division ofConsumer Reports. Butcookiesare still the most common way companies track you on the web.

Use the right settings and you can enhance your privacy while making sure websites still work the way they should.

A cookie is a little bit of data stored on your computer by a website thats related to your activity on the site, explains Selena Deckelmann, a director of engineering for the Firefox browser at Mozilla.

Cookies are simple files, notprograms, and they dont contain malware or anything that can damage your computer. Theyre also tinymany are just 3 to 10 kilobytesso theyre not occupying a significant amount of space on your hard drive.

Theyre small but powerful.Deckelmann was shopping for a sink recently. She went to a hardware retailers website, browsed various models, and then left to visit more sites. And she immediately started seeing ads for faucets, vanities, and other sink-related items.

Cookies help explain how that happened. A company can drop cookies across the web and get a decent sample of your browsing activity, says Casey Oppenheim, co-founder of the web security firm Disconnect.

When Deckelmann visited the retailers website, it deposited a number of cookies on her computer, in a location determined by her browser. Some of those cookiescalled first-party cookiescame from the domain that she saw in the URL at the top of the browser window, such as or m. (Well discuss third-party cookies below.)

The first-party cookies left by the retailer carried information such as an indication that she had logged in successfully. They may have recorded her location (to help the website display the right language and currency) and what she placed in her shopping cart.

But how does the website use that information?

Each time you go to a webpage, your browser sends out a request for the files needed to display the page. And along with that request goes a copy of every cookie that originated with that domain. The browser sends Amazon.com the cookies left by Amazon.com, while BestBuy.com gets the cookies left by BestBuy.com, and so on.

Lots of those cookies expire when you close the browser, but not all of them.

When Deckelmann came back to the site the next day or the next week, the browser sent back copies of the remaining cookies. Thats how the site seemed to know who she was, and what shed done during her last visit.

Without first-party cookies, websites would seem a lot stupider.

Weve only been talking about first-party cookies. But during Deckelmanns visit to the retail website, other companies may have deposited their own, third-party cookies.

How did that happen? Well, a webpage is made up of many files and little bits of code. Many of those bits and pieces come from the retailer itself. But other elements, such as ads and social media buttons, come from other companies.

A huge percentage of all the ads you see online are handled by DoubleClick, which is owned by Google, so lets use that company as an example. When you see an ad embedded in a webpage, theres a good chance its coming from the domain . And the advertisement may carry cookies along for the ride.

Next time you go to any site with elements originating on DoubleClick.net, your browser sends DoubleClick a copy of all its cookies. If you visit many websites that contain chunks of DoubleClick content, your browser supplies the company with a steady stream of cookies.

And remember, DoubleClick.net is just one example of the many domains that supply elements to webpages and leave cookies on users machines.

Thats why the entire internet seemed to know instantly that Deckelmann had been shopping for sinks.

As Oppenheim says, From a consumer perspective, theres a big difference between first-party cookies and third-party cookies.

One way to do that is by browsing in Private mode (for Safari or Firefox) or Incognito (for Chrome). Browsing this way doesnt keep your internet service provider or a web server from knowing what youre doing online, but it does keep cookies from working. And that can be illuminating.

Its showing you what its like to live in a world without cookies, Deckelmann says.

For instance, if you normally stay logged into Facebook, youll have to log in again if you visit using a Private window.

If I clear my cookies, it screws up my workflow, says Oppenheim. Having to sign in every time is a hassle.

Full disclosure: uses cookies, though the site doesnt accept advertising. You can learn more in theConsumer Reportsprivacy policy.

You may not mind third-party cookies. After all, you might like seeing ads for items youve been shopping for.

But, if you want to, you can block just third-party cookies and let through first-party cookies.That will reduce the number of companies collecting and storing information about you.

Deckelmann has a three-pronged plan for accomplishing this, just by using your browser settings. (Ad-blocking web extensionsalso accomplish this, along with other tasks; thats a discussion for another day.)

The first step is to make sure you have a record of all the passwords for sites that require a login. (Apassword managercan help with that.) Once youve done that, Deckelmann suggests going ahead and clearing all your cookies, as outlined below. Trying to delete cookies one at a time would take forever, and even experts cant tell with any certainty what each individual cookie does.

Its like your purse, Deckelmann says. Periodically you need to dump that thing out and start fresh.

The trade-off: Your web surfing experience will be a little choppy for the next few days as you re-enter passwords and update other settings.

Heres how to clear cookies in three popular browsers.

Chrome:Under the Chrome tab at the top left of your screen, click Clear browsing data. Check the box: Cookies and other site data. Then click the bar at the bottom right of the window that says Clear browsing data.

Firefox:Under the Firefox tab at the upper left of your screen, go to Preferences Privacy & Security Show Cookies Remove All.

Safari:Under the Safari tab at the upper right of your screen, go to Preferences Privacy Manage Website Data Remove All.

The final step is to instruct your browser to allow first-party cookies while blocking third-party cookies.

Chrome:Go to Preferences Privacy Content settings. Open the Cookies tab and select Block third-party cookies.

Firefox:Go to Preferences Privacy History. The default setting is Remember history. Change it to Use custom settings for history to reveal your cookies options.

For third-party cookies, you have three options: Always, Never, and From visited.

Safari:Apples browser features the same cookie compromiseAllow [cookies] from websites I visitwhich can be found at Preferences Privacy.

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Shopping links are provided by eBay Commerce Network and Amazon, which makes it easy to find the right product from a variety of online retailers. Clicking any of the links will take you to the retailers website to shop for this product. Please note that Consumer Reports collects fees from both eBay Commerce Network and Amazon for referring users. We use 100% of these fees to fund our testing programs.

I believe that technology has the power to change our livesfor better or for worse. Thats why Ive spent my life reporting and writing about it for outlets of all sorts, from newspapers (such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times) to magazines (Popular Mechanics and Rolling Stone) and even my own books (Newtons Football and Claptons Guitar). For me, theres no better way to spend a day than talking to a bunch of experts about an important subject and then writing a story thatll help others be smarter and better informed.

New program helps boost minority entrepreneurs in St Cloud and ctral Mnesota

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New program helps boost minority entrepreneurs in St. Cloud and central Minnesota

Provided by the Initiative Foundation

The Initiative Foundation held Enterprise Academy, a 12-week program to boost business development in St. Cloud and other central Minnesota cities.

Saida Omar dreams of one day opening a salon in St. Cloud, Minn., and a new program launched this spring is designed to help her accomplish that.

The Enterprise Academy, a pilot program started by the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation, aims to help members of the East African community in St. Cloud start small businesses. The 12-week program, which wrapped up earlier this month, is modeled after a Twin Cities program that helped launch Mercado Central off Lake Street in 1997 and Midtown Global Market.

This is part of a system of support, said Jeff Wig, the foundations vice president for economic and business development. Everybody [in the community] benefits.

Omar was one of eight people who completed the program, which included business planning and one-on-one coaching. Participants are also eligible for up to $50,000 in foundation loans to launch or grow their business. Funded largely by grants from Wells Fargo, the program partnered with Twin Cities-based Neighborhood Development Center, which has trained thousands of people and has helped start small businesses.

While an estimated 10,000 East Africans call St. Cloud and the surrounding area home, only about 50 East African-run businesses are located there, according to the Initiative Foundation.

The goal is to increase that, Wig said, adding that many of the program attendees had run businesses in Africa, but faced new challenges in starting one in the U.S. We knew there was good energy to capitalize on.

He added that he was impressed by the strong work ethic of the attendees, many of whom juggle full-time jobs while raising families and starting or running a business.

Abshiro Hussein Mayow, a 24-year-old who works while attending graduate school at St. Cloud State University, is applying for medical school and developing a plan to open a medical scribe company after working in the field.

I saw the need, she said. I have a passion for better community health.

She added that the Enterprise Academy taught her many things and helped her make connections.

The Initiative Foundation is planning a second academy this fall in St. Cloud and hopes to expand the program in 2019 to other financially disadvantaged groups who dont normally have access to business-planning education in central Minnesota.

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How To Advertise on Google and Boost Your Small Business

Google advertising is a great marketing strategy for small business owners. You can show an ad for your business to people who are searching for your type of business at that very moment AND who are looking for businesses in your area. This type of targeting makes most small business owners want to advertise on Google.

Want free advertising right out of the gate? When you sign up with , you get a domain name, website, business email, AND $150 in free advertising with Google and Bing.Click herefor instruction on claiming your ad credit.

Google Adwordsis an online advertising service that allows businesses to have their ads run on Googles search results page. The ads look almost identical to the normal search results, with the only difference being the small word Ad in green. Google ads will show at the top and bottom of a search results page.

If you are interested in learning more about how to rank highly in the organic search results, read our7 steps to increasing Google page rank.

When a consumer searches for a term or phrase, Google will show the consumer relevant ads based on the keywords used in the search. Websites that want their ads to show on the results page bid on keywords that they believe people will use when looking for their type of business. For example, a plumber located in Atlanta might bid on the keywords plumbing atlanta, plumber, or broken toilet.

Depending on how much you bid compared to other plumbers in the area, your ad may show up on the results page when people search for the terms you bid on. In addition to how much you bid, Google also takes into account the relevance and quality of your ad and website. So even if you have the highest bid, the ad for your plumbing company will probably never show when someone searches flower store.

We will go into more detail below onhow Google determines which ads to showon the results page andhow much advertising on Google costs. If you want more help with Google advertising, you should look atAdzooma. They offer an easy and intuitive Google ad builder, a simple performance report dashboard, and insights to help you improve your ads.Click here to check it out.

There are three primary benefits to advertising on Google:

People searching Google are typically in the market for the keywords they are searching for. For example, if someone searches pizza nyc, it is not too presumptuous to assume they are looking for a pizza spot to eat lunch at later that day. Since you can set the geographical location that you want your ad to show, you can make sure only people in your area are seeing your ad. For example, you can tell Google to only have your ad show to people located in New York.

Compare this to advertising on Facebook. Even though you can show an ad for your restaurant to someone who is a known pizza enthusiast, you cant show it at the moment they are looking for a pizza restaurant. Instead, you are targeting them when theyre looking at pictures of their cousins golfing vacation. This is not as effective.

This is what makes advertising on Google so successful and unlike any other type of advertising. You are specifically targeting people that are in the market for your goods or services at the moment theyre seeing your ad. Not only that, you can target only people that are located in your area, which is a huge plus for local businesses.

Another enticing factor is that you only pay if your advertisement works. Since Google uses a pay-per-click advertising model, you only pay if someone is searching for the keyword you have bid on AND is interested enough in your ad to click on it.

You can set how much you are willing topay per clickon your ad and set a maximum daily budget. This differs from advertising in your local newspaper, which costs a standard price that is paid whether or not someone even looks at your ad.

Google AdWords has revolutionized the way advertising works by only making you pay when the user has taken an action to view your site. We will go into more detail abouthow much it coststo advertise later in the article.

With the AdWords dashboard you can track how many people see your ad, how many click on your ad, and how many take an action once on your website. That way, if you notice that a lot of people are clicking on your ad, but no one is buying anything once on your site, you know you need to edit either thelanding pageor the ad itself. By keeping a pulse on how your ad is doing, you can make any necessary adjustments quickly in order to have a successful ad campaign.

The tracking capabilities with advertising on Google is a huge plus for small businesses. Imagine you own a flower store and decide to buy a billboard advertisement. Unless a customer told you, there would be little to no information telling you if anyone came to your store because they saw the billboard. You would be making a big investment without really knowing if it was yielding a positive return.

With Google ads, you can track exactly how many people visited your site because they clicked on your ad. There is little risk since you can stop running an ad at any time if you notice that you are not getting the results you want. We will explore thebest ways to track your adsa little later in the article.

Google uses a combination of three primary factors to determine when an ad shows on the results page:

The bid is the price you are willing to pay for a click on your ad. You bid against other websites on keywords that you believe people search for if they are interested in your product. A flower store might bid on the terms roses cheap bouquet or wedding flowers.

Your ad needs to be relevant to the search being made in order to show on the search results page. If someone searches wedding flowers it wouldnt make sense for Google to show an ad for a nail salon. You want to make sure you have a lot of the same keywords that you are bidding on in the ad itself, so Google can tell your ad is relevant to the search.

When someone clicks on your ad, the landing page that they are sent to should have similar content as the ad itself and the keywords used in the search. If you own a salon and are advertising manicures, youll want to link directly to a page that has more information on manicures, instead of to the homepage which includes all of your services.

Bonus:Whats better than Google Advertising? Getting traffic from Google for free.Get our guideand learn how to rank on the first page!

Mobile and desktop ads on Google are very similar. They both display ads at the top and bottom of the search results page, and you bid on keywords the same way with both. Though some business owners overlook mobile, it is something you definitely want to think about when advertising on Google. More than half of Googles searches are done from mobile devices, and people searching on their phone often have local intent.

The key differences between desktop and mobile advertising are:

There is less space on a mobile device

, so you need to make sure your message is straight to the point.

People on their phones are on the go

, so you want to tailor your message depending on if its for desktop or mobile.

Below is an example of two ads for the same company with the first showing on mobile and the second showing on desktop. Notice that the mobile ad incorporates a click to call button so that people searching on their mobile devices can easily call for more information.

When setting up your account, you can decide whether you want your ad to show on desktop, mobile, or both. We suggest setting up separate campaigns for desktop and mobile in order to track how your ads perform across different devices. Depending on your type of business, you may want to focus your efforts on one over the other.

Antonella Pisani, CEO & Founder,Official Coupon Code

In pay per click advertising, you only pay if someone clicks on your ad. The cost per click of an ad depends on how much you bid on certain keywords. The cost ranges greatly depending on if you are in a market where a lot of other businesses are willing to pay a high price to rank on a certain keyword.

For example, if you are a realtor in a small town you might be able to bid less than $1 per click on a keyword and still have your ad show on Google. However, if you own a medical malpractice law firm in a big city, the cost per click will be much more expensive.

Learn more about the cost to advertise in our guide toGoogle advertising costs.

You can use Googles keyword planner to see how much the suggested bids are for your ad to show up when someone searches for specific keywords. However, instead of strictly focusing on the cost of advertising, you will also want to think about how much you stand to earn from advertising on Google, and whether this will yield a substantial profit for your business.

Example: the average suggested bid for keywords related to the term real estate providence is $1.50 which we can compare to the average bid of $30 for terms related to medical malpractice attorney providence. A malpractice firm might be thrilled to pay $30 for a click on their ad if 1 out of 10 clicks becomes a new client. Even though they are paying $300 for a new client, they will likely still profit from the ad at the end of the day.

We will go over thekeyword plannerin more detail later in the article.

The simple answer is to advertise on Bing. In many ways, Bing provides a very similar service to Google Adwords. The only big disadvantage of Bing is that there are fewer clicks available for purchase. As a result, many advertisers focus on Google Adwords and ignore Bing. The lower competition means less fierce bidding, which in turn lowers the cost per click. According to an article by Wordstream, Bing is typically 33.5% cheaper than Adwords for the same term.

Remember, signing up forBluehostwill include $150 in Google AND Bing advertising for free.Click here to get started.

Once youve chosen your hosting plan and domain fromBluehost, youre ready to try your first Google AdWords campaign with $150 in credit. Heres how to get started:

in the top left of your Bluehost dashboard (

make sure you are logged into Bluehost)

You need to spend $25 in Google AdWords to get the ad credit

Scroll down to the gray box that says

Create your first AdWords™ campaign

: Copy the code and click on the green button that appears labelled

In the next screen, enter an email address you want to use for your Google AdWords account and the URL of the website you want to advertise with Google

You can now create your first AdWords campaign and use your discount code (learnhow to set a budgetandhow to use Google AdWords)

After you create your campaign, you can enter the code received in step 4 in the

Enter you payment information, check the box next to

I agree to the AdWords terms and conditions

In order to setup your account and begin advertising on Google, all you need is an email address and a website. Follow along with the steps and set up your own accounthere.

The first step is setting your daily budget. A good starting point is $10 per day, but you can increase or decrease this amount once you have a better idea of what you will have to bid per keyword. Its not guaranteed that you will pay this amount every day (especially if no one is clicking your ad), but Google will make sure you wont exceed your budget.

A good way to set your budget is to first figure out what percentage of clicks will convert into sales.WordStream has a nice infographicthat shows a 2-5% average conversion rate for small businesses. If 5 out of 100 people that visit your website purchase your product, than you have a 5% conversion rate. You then have to decide how much you are willing to spend for each person to purchase your product. If you sell something that is $1,000 you are probably willing to pay more per click than someone with a $5 product if you both have a 5% conversion rate.

If youd like to get started for free, giveBingads a shot as well. They offer afree $100 credit when you spend $25, which is a great way to try out different terms to see what works before you start running paid campaigns on Google.

Google lets you decide what geographical location you want your ads to show in. This is important for local businesses because you can make sure that your ad only shows when people search for the keyword you are bidding on AND are within a specified distance from your business. This can save you money and increase your conversion rate. You can even target a certain radius from your zip code by hitting advanced search and choosing radius targeting.

Most small businesses use the Google Search Network for their ads

Google lets you choose between showing your ads exclusively on Googles search results page (search network), or also including Google content sites (display network). If you choose display network, your ad could show up on other sites, such as YouTube and Gmail. We suggest starting with the search network as this ensures that your ad only shows for people searching for your type of business. The types of products that small business owners provide tend to be more successful with this type of advertising.

Keywords are the terms or phrases that users enter into Google when they are using the search engine. When setting up your AdWords account, you can choose which keywords you want to trigger your ad. Google will suggest keywords for you to use based on your website and will also let you know how popular a keyword is. For example, when setting up an account for a pizza restaurant in Dallas, a suggested keyword is dallas restaurants, which gets 18,100 monthly searches.

Google has good suggestions, so you can definitely use those at first. If you are looking to add more keywords after you setup your account, Google has a useful resource in the Tools section of your AdWords account called Keyword Planner This will help you get ideas for other terms you could be using. For example, when I typed pizza dallas and then clicked Get Ideas, one of the suggested terms was pizza delivery in dallas which is a phrase I had not yet thought of using. Since Google has data on every search, you can see trends and common searches that you may not have realized were popular for your type of business.

Another good strategy is to focus on keywords with more than 2 words, also known as long-tail keywords. These will have less competition since they are more specific.

There are 4 different keyword matching options that you can choose from:

This is the default match type that your keywords are assigned and will reach the most extensive audience out of the options. This may seem like a positive thing, but since your ad is eligible to show when a search query includes any of your keywords in any order (including synonyms), your ad could be showing on searches that arent really relevant to your site. Since all keywords dont even have to be in the search query for the ad to show, if your search term is dallas restaurant your ad could show for pizza in dallas.

This option gives you a little more control than the broad match on who sees your ad because you can lock certain keywords into place. You just need to add a + in front of the word and that lets Google know that the search needs to include that word in order to trigger your ad. If your restaurant specializes in pizza and no other types of food, you may want to bid on the keyword +pizza in dallas so that your ad wont appear when someone searches dallas restaurant.

This option is next down the line of stricter control. With phrase match, search terms need to be in the same order as your keywords to trigger your ad, but there can be other words before or after the phrase. So if your keyword is dallas restaurant your ad wont appear when someone searches restaurant dallas, but could if someone searches best dallas restaurant. In order to indicate to Google that you want a phrase match, you will need to put quotation marks around the phrase.

This option works just like it sounds. In order for your ad to show, someone will have to search the exact keywords, in the same order, and with no other words before or after. So if you want to place an exact match on dallas restaurant your ad wont show for the search best dallas restaurant or restaurant in dallas. You need to put brackets around the phrase if you would like it to be an exact match (e.g. [dallas restaurant]).

Small business owners should use a combination of these matching types for their keywords.

If you notice that your ad is showing for a search query that is not really relevant to your site, you will want to take advantage of negative keywords. So if a keyword that youre bidding on is cheeseburger than you probably dont want people to click on your ad after searching for the popular song cheeseburger in paradise if you own a hamburger restaurant. In this case, you would add paradise as a negative keyword, and your ad wont show if someone includes that word in their search.

Collin J. Slattery, Founder,Taikun, Inc.

The bid is the amount you are willing to pay for a click on your ad. You are bidding on keywords against other websites in order for your ad to show on the results page when someone searches for that keyword. If a website has an equally relevant ad to the search being made and is willing to pay more per click, then their ad will show higher than yours or even instead of yours.

Use Googleskeyword plannerto find out how much you will need to bid. Below is a comparison of suggested relevant keywords and bids for the search pizza rochester and plumbing rochester in the keyword planner. As you can see, plumbing companies can expect to bid higher than pizza restaurants in the Rochester area.

Google AdWords dashboard for writing your ad

The final step is writing your ad. You will need to write two headlines and a description. You have a limited number of characters, so make sure your ad is concise and straight to the point.

How to Effectively Advertise on Google

You need to use the same keywords that you are bidding on are in your ad so that Google will be able to tell that the ad is relevant to the search.

If you are a local business, you want to consider using location terms in your search. If someone is searching for bbq dallas then your ad with the headline Best BBQ in Dallas will be more likely to show in the results and be highly relevant for the person looking for a restaurant in your area.

Clearly state who you are and what you offer

The user should know immediately what your business is and how you can help with what theyre looking for. If you own a store that offers many different products, make sure you are matching your ad to the keywords being searched.

Tell the user what makes your business unique

There are tons of results on the first page of a Google search. You need to tell them why they should choose your business. Are you more affordable, dependable, or reliable? Do you have awesome reviews and ratings? Share that information in your ad.

Users are more likely to click on an ad if they are being instructed on next steps. Examples of this are Call today for a free quote, or Enter zip to find store closest to you.

You may want to include an offer such as 20% off shoes today! or Free shipping!. Its understandable if you dont want to offer a discount on top of the advertising cost, but even a small offer can be the difference between attracting a new customer to your site, or having them click on the website next to yours.

Extensions show additional information about your business, such as your phone numbers, store rating or address, as links extending from your ad. Including extensions will increase the amount of space you take up on the results page, and they tend to have a high click through rates (both huge benefits). Plus there is no additional cost for including extensions.

A simple step you can take before writing your ads is to search for your type of business and see what type of ads come up. You dont want to copy other businesses ads exactly, but you can get an idea of what works and what is out there.

This ad hits a lot of the things on our checklist. It is packed with keywords, offers $40 off, boasts being open 24/7, highlights what they are best at, and has ad extensions that are tempting to click on. Next, take a look at this ad:

This ad is a little weaker because although it is clear that they are offering plumbing services in NYC, there are not many keywords, and nothing in the ad makes them stand out against the other ads listed.

Google gives you a certain amount of characters to use, and in most cases you want to take advantage of all possible characters. The bigger your ad, the more it will stand out and the more keywords you can use within your ad.

When writing ads targeting mobile devices, you want to think about everything we mentioned above. However, there are a couple of things that you will need to tweak for mobile:

Include click to call and click for directions

Enable these ad extensions so people can quickly contact or locate your business when they are on the go.

There is less space on mobile and people are looking at a smaller screen, so make sure your message is simple and straight to the point.

Make sure your landing pages are optimized for mobile, or theres a good chance Google wont let your mobile ads rank.

Heres an example of a good mobile ad. The ad extensions are straight to the point, the click to call button allows people to easily contact the firm, plus you can see how far it is from your current location.

An important aspect of advertising on Google is tracking how your ad is doing. When you are first starting, you should log into your account about once a week in order to make sure your ad is performing well.

Google will assign a quality score to each of your keywords based on:

Expected click-through rate How likely someone is to click on your ad after searching for the keyword.

Ad relevance How closely the keyword is related to your ad.

Landing page experience- How closely the keyword is related to the landing page your ad link to.

You can check the quality score of your keywords by clicking on the keywords tab on your account and adding the quality score column.

Google multiplies your quality score times your bid to determine what number your ad will rank. Therefore, if your quality score is 0.9 and your bid for the keyword is $1, you will rank higher than someone with a quality score of 0.4 that bids $2.

Ex: (0.9 x $1) = 0.9 (0.4 x $2) = 0.8

David Erickson, VP of Online Marketing,Karwoski & Courage

Quality scores let you know if your ads will rank high, but you can also check statistics on the ad to see how many people are seeing and clicking on your ad:

Impressions are counted each time your ad appears on the results page. You will want to take note of the number of impressions your ad gets because a low number of impressions is a red flag. If no one is seeing your ad, there is no chance of you getting business from that ad. If you notice a low number of impressions youll want to make sure your bid is competitive and that the keywords you chose to bid on match your ad and your landing page.

The click through rate on an ad is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. This percentage lets you know out of everyone that is seeing your ad, how many people are taking an action to click on it. Good click through rates vary by industry, but if your CTR is less than 1% you should reevaluate the text of your ad. Make sure the ad is enticing and give a compelling reason for someone to click on your ad in order to drive traffic to your website.

CPC is the total amount paid for your ads divided by the total number of clicks. This price lets you know what you are paying for someone to click on your ad. Determining if you have a good CPC depends on the rate at which people on your site typically convert into sales. If 1 out of every 100 people that go to your site becomes a customer, then your conversion rate is 1%. If your average cost per click is $2 then you are paying $200 to get a new customer. This is great news if a conversion means $1,000 in your pocket, but not so much if you will get $20 max from a customer. If you feel your CPC is too high, youll need to evaluate your landing page and ad to get more conversions.

You shouldnt expect to get a net positive ROI until youve refined your advertisements. Thats why starting out with afree $100 Bing credit when you spend $25can be a good way to experiment on the cheap before running paid campaigns on Google.

Just like how you wouldnt settle on the first pizza recipe you come across if you own a pizza restaurant, you also dont want to settle on the first ad that you write.

You should always have at least two ads running at once. You will want to change something in one of the ads and then test which one works best. Be careful to not change too many things at once, because than if an ad starts doing exponentially better, you wont know which change led to the better results.

Matthew de Noronha, Digital Marketing Specialist,Eastside Co.

You should also consistently clean your keyword list. Use Googles search term report to see what actual searches are triggering your ad. You can find this report in your account under the keyword tab by hitting the search terms button. If you notice that your ad is showing for keywords that are not relevant to your site, you will want to remove that keyword, add it as a negative keyword, or turn it into an exact match keyword.

For example, imagine you own an eyeglass store, and your ad is showing when someone searches wine glasses because one of your keywords is glasses. You will either want to add wine as a negative keyword, or you can make sure Google only matches your ad when someone searches the full phrase eye glasses.

Having a good set of keywords is key because you only want your ad showing to people that will find your businesses useful. Otherwise, you could be wasting money on unnecessary clicks.

After you get the hang of running your first Google ad, you will want to start running multiple campaigns at once. A campaign is a set of ad groups that all share a budget, location setting and device setting. So if you own a business that has two locations, you will want to have a separate campaign for each. Then you can use targeted keywords depending on which location the campaign is for.

Each campaign is made of different ad groups. Each ad group shares a list of keywords and should have a similar theme. Therefore if you own a home goods store, you could have an ad group that consists of keywords related to dishware, and one that has keywords relating to furniture. Keep in mind that you dont want two ad groups in the same campaign to share too many of the same keywords, because then you might be bidding against yourself to have one of your ads show.

Dont forget to check outAdzoomaif you want professional help to improve your ad performance. They offer a simple performance report dashboard and insights to help you generate more revenue from you ads.Click here to try Adzooma.

When you advertise on Google, it can go a long way towards helping you get new customers, especially since you can target your ad specifically for people in your area.

Once you create your account, constantly test ads so you are using the best performing material, and keep your keyword list clean. This will help you pay the lowest amount possible for your ads. Check out ourguide to Google advertising coststo learn more.

Dont forget to sign up for web hosting, a domain, and business email withBluehostto receive $150 in free Google and Bing Ad credits.Click here to learn more.

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